PESHAWAR: “See how beautiful and lovely my son is. Do you think he should die, [yet] he has been brutally killed by those ruthless terrorists in Army Public College,” reads a post on Ghayasuddin Afridi’s Facebook page.
Afridi is among the many parents who lost their beloved children that ill-fated December 16 when terrorists stormed Army Public School (APS) and killed 150 people, most of them schoolchildren.
The loss of his 19-year-old son has been hard on Ghayasuddin Afridi and his wife; in the month that has passed since they lost Abdul Azam in the brutal massacre, the family is considering packing up and leaving Peshawar for good.
“His mother keeps crying and repeating the same sentence: Bring me my Abdullah,” says Afridi, explaining Abdullah was the name Abdul Azam’s mom had given him.
According to Afridi who lives in Army Colony on Warsak Road, Abdul, his youngest and favourite child, was a second year student at Army Public College.
“A decade ago, when I lost my job in the Pak-Holland Metal Project, I decided not to seek another job and focus on my children—a girl and three boys. I wanted them to be well-educated and well-mannered,” he says, adding all of them are brilliant students and Abdul was a position holder.
Being the youngest, Abdul was close to his mother and a night before the horrific tragedy he had also spent time with his sister. Afridi says he seemed to be in a hurry and a little nervous too, but the family dismissed his nervousness. “We did not know that he was in a rush to leave us forever along with 149 of his schoolmates and teachers.”
Abdul remained quiet that night and did not speak much to the family. In the morning he said goodbye to his mother and left for college. Little did she know that he would return home in a coffin.
Recalling the events of that fateful day, Afridi says he was having breakfast when he heard firing nearby, but he didn’t make much of it. However, Afridi received a call after some time and learnt there had been an attack on APS.
I asked my wife where Abdullah was in the hopes that he hadn’t gone to college that day, but she said he had.
“I tried to call Abdul many times but there was no answer, so I called my son Sikandar and told him to look for Abdul at the college. Later, we learnt he was at Combined Military Hospital and ultimately brought his body home,” says Afridi.
Abdul had been shot three times. The family still doesn’t know what happened to him that day. Someone told Afridi the terrorists shot Abdul near the school stairs.
“His mother cries all the time because she wants him to come back. We cry with her too,” says the bereaved father, adding he had seen some houses in Islamabad and was thinking about moving there because he is worried about his remaining children.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2015.
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